1 November, 2020

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Courting Satan In Saffron Robes

By Sharmini Serasinghe

Sharmini Serasinghe

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it” – Aung San Suu Kyi

The Rajapaksas’ moment of glory has passed. The sheen on the “We won the war” badge has now faded. The golden moment that presented itself post-2009 to ‘right’ the ‘wrongs’ of the past is now lost. The lack of a political vision, direction and leadership of a country emerging from the quagmire of a protracted bloody civil war is tragic, to say the least.

Ineptitude at governance and corruption at all levels has become synonymous with the hyped – up cognomen of the High and Mighty; and their senseless rhetoric has turned out to be just that- senseless. Their vision and direction appears to be focused only on one thing- to augment their power, personal glory and fortune, while steering the country on a downward course. To sum it all up, their bull-in-a-china-shop method of governance would appear comic, if it wasn’t for them taking us and the country back to a tragic era, none of us ever want to revisit.

Thus in such a despairing scenario where all is lost and the hunger for power persists, then what do such ‘legitimate desperados’ do to keep the gullible voting masses awed for a while longer, at least until the next ‘defining’ election? The challenge here for the demagogues appears to be monumental, but is it?

It is indeed disturbing to note that even the young ‘samaneras’ or novice monks are being made to contribute their might to hate speech and vile demonstrations against the ‘other’ | Photo Daily Mirror

There is the voter who thinks through his belly, therefore his plate of rice. So, in the absence of a costly war there is no valid excuse anymore to lay the blame on the war for the ceaseless and regular rises in costs of living, rendering the voter constantly hungry. Therefore it’s imperative to keep him happy, for his loyalty at the ballot-box depends on how full his belly is. Thus the demagogues now need to resort to measures to keep the voter adequately distracted from his hunger pangs and ensure that the all important vote is cast in the ‘right’ direction again.

However there is one trick left in the bag, a time tested and a very effective one at that- the age-old political gimmick which thus far has not failed to yield results – Buddhism.

Lanka’s politicians since time immemorial, have used and abused Buddhism for political mileage, making it almost a tradition in the local political spectrum! After all what is Buddhism to these demagogues anyway, since for them, nothing is sacred except power! And true to form, they latch on to the sacred Saffron robe once again.

But this time, with or without knowing it, they are courting Satan and his entourage disguised as Buddhist monks!

In keeping with the need of the hour, and hot on the heels of the infamous ‘Grease Yakkas’ who disappeared as fast as they appeared, out pops a gang of miscreants masquerading as Buddhist monks all wrapped up in Saffron Robes and topped with shaven heads. Could they be the same ‘Grease Yakkas’, in different garb and a different modus operandi?

However this time around, these miscreants have been ingenious in choosing their uniform- the sacred Saffron robe. Once draped in it, the possibilities are endless. For they know, the power this sacred garment of Buddhist monks wields over the average voting majority. They can thus be hoodwinked into anything, as long as it is said and done in the name of Buddhism. This is the ultimate weapon to rally the masses behind them- for better or for worse!

These young children who ought to be in school are instead roaming the streets with their older counterparts watching, learning and emulating their elders, demonstrating all that goes against the Buddhist doctrine | Photo Daily Mirror

For the demagogues, these Saffron-robed ‘mouthpieces’ can be extremely useful at times. For they can be seen and heard, saying and doing things with credibility, that the demagogues cannot be ‘seen to be doing’ as it will not be deemed ‘politically correct’. Thus overtly the demagogues are ‘seen and heard’ sermonizing the merits of ethno-religious harmony and other such platitudes which are ‘politically correct’, while covertly allowing full rein to the terror instincts of a few Saffron-robed rebels. Or else, how does one explain the obvious carte blanche enjoyed by these ‘monks’ to run amok with such impunity.

So what might we have next, every Tom, Dick and Harry donning the Saffron robe and flexing their muscles? Will all murderers, rapists, drug peddlers et al now start masquerading as Buddhist monks in order to evade the law, if they are not already doing so? Will we have yet another JVP-style insurrection, this time by disgruntled youth disguised as Buddhist monks? After all, the law enforcement authorities have proven beyond doubt that the law does not apply to those in Saffron robes. Just imagine the horrors in the offing if this menace is not arrested!

Little does the rural voter realise that these ‘monks’ are not ‘swaminwahanses’ from the village temple. They cannot see beyond the Saffron robe to understand that these ‘monks’ are nothing but a group of extremist rabble-rousers hell bent on wreaking havoc. For these ‘monks’ are precisely that; elements of frustrated youth who have been marking time for the opportune moment to ignite the tinderbox of yet another protracted war- this time with religious undertones.

Now that these ‘monks’ have been unleashed with political blessings, the demagogues will soon find themselves caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. For there will soon come a day when these ‘monks’ will no longer be willing to ‘go along’ with the elected political leaders of the country. Left unchecked, these yellow-robed ‘rebels’ will eventually ‘take over,’ as they are ‘in it’ for the long haul. Therefore it is just a matter of time before this saga blows up in the faces of those who fanned its flames and ultimately end up with anarchy.

Then what will the demagogues do? Turn their guns on the Buddhist clergy and shoot down the entire lot as in the 70s and 80s JVP insurrections? Will they still expect the Sinhala-Buddhist vote to be cast in their favour after that? If this is to be their downfall, at what cost would it be?

It is indeed disturbing to note that even the young ‘samaneras’ or novice monks are being made to contribute their might to hate speech and vile demonstrations against the ‘other’. These young children who ought to be in school are instead roaming the streets with their older counterparts watching, learning and emulating their elders, demonstrating all that goes against the Buddhist doctrine. What and who are they being trained to grow up to be? What are the national Child Protection Authorities doing about it? Or don’t these children who have been offered/gifted/abandoned/donated to the ‘temple’ come under the purview of such Authorities?

It appears the Rajapaksas are trying to add a new chapter to the Sinhala-Buddhist Fable- the Mahavamsa. And in doing so, they will be taking all of us and the country down with them.

*Sharmini Serasinghe was Director Communications of the former Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) under Secretary Generals Jayantha Dhanapala and Dr. John Gooneratne. She counts over thirty years in journalism in both the print and electronic media.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    ” Rulers are ONLY after power and will USE Religion and Race to their advantage and will sacrifice principles for that. We have to consider the views of the majority of Buddhists in the country in finding solutions to the newly created problems by BBS in the country. Buddhists are divided by BBS brutal activities, because they KNOW it si NOT Buddhism and only Monk Terrorism.

    Should Sri lanka go back to pre-Buddhist days, of worshiping and Hinduism. They are more peaceful tat the current BBS-Rajapaksa Axis.

  • 0
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    To all religous fanatics and lunatics, i would like impart the knowledge that ‘ RELIGION GIVES MEANING AND PURPOSE TO HUMAN LIFE ‘,without which life is a vaccum.The most easiest way to gain fame and greed is distortion and religion. This is happening since the country gained independence and how long it will go on is an enigma.

  • 0
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    Do Buddhist parents yet admit their young sons in temples as Samaneras based on astrological predictions that they are destined to become monks or most times because they are predicted to become ‘no goods’? Are the latter group the ones who end up becoming blackguard monks?

    Further, noticing that most monks I see are in very good physical condition, I asked a Buddhist friend, whether the monks yet go around seeking alms. He said that very few monks do so now and explained that arrangements have been made to offer food thrice a day- breakfast, lunch and an early supper- at the Viharas by member families in the community. The best that the devotees can afford is offered to the monks as food. Further, the monks are also invited to Danas, where thy are given the best of food. They are well fed and have little to do. Further, attaining Nibbana/Nirvana or working towards it, in this life , does not seem to be the goal of most monks now. Does this explain what has befallen the Sangha now?

    This contrasts with the practice in several Hindu temples and ashrams in Jaffna, where free food donated by devotees is offered to the poor and those who visit these temples, daily. I remember spending two weeks with German Swami in his ashramam in Selva Sanathy as a teenager and having three delicious meals every day at the adjoining Ananda Ashram .The Buddhist devotees to the Naga Vihara in Nainativu/ Nagadipa, usually go to the Nagabooshani Amman temple nearby, to eat the lunch offered, free.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0
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      You are right.Why should Sinhala Buddhist priests aspire to Nirvana when they already have it in this life!

  • 0
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    Of the PM’s it was Sir John and of Presidents CBK – that cannot be tarred with the communal brush. Premadasa grew up among Malayalees,
    Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils in Vaala-thotam/Keselwatta in the vicinity of the Supreme/DC Courts and was largely secular. But the architects of the feared attack on Sea Street – upon which Indira Gandhi despatched Narasimha Rao with a warning – and the Black Friday attack are known to some. Sea Street avoided the attack after the change of a large cache of money at that time but Black Friday went on
    to destabilise JR in a divided Cabinet that by then was over-run by Sinhala extremists.

    The take over of Sea Street jewellery business was the pet
    dream of a notorious woman in power at that time, who came from the slums of Colombo. She could not raise herself to the position of a Lady of Manor (as Lasantha W described) although a tainted Colombo 7 socialite of dubious reputation was entrusted to “lift her up to society levels” – in the manner Prof. Henry Higgins and Col. Pickering tried to do of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. The Tart, as Upali W and Wickrema W referred to her, was pilloried and criticised by them with all sorts of demeaning poetry and fax messages. One joke that RP hated was what the Island carried where it was said the fat woman, in swimming trunks and all, jumped into a swimming pool, all in the process of social climbing, resulting in much of the water coming out of the Pool. Upali is no more. The woman, originally from the Bandarawela area, is still around – with great ambitions still. There is little fear she will read this. She cannot, even if she tried to. I am not being snobbish but facts, as we were taught, are stubborn. Those in public life risk themselves to be scrutinised by the them. That is the price of political life.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    Well done Sharmini,anyway please take care the white vanners will be at your door sooner or later.As for Jaliya W.he can stop bum licking , go home and take a bath to wash off all the shit that covers his body, because of the non stop bum licking he has been indulging in .

  • 0
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    Sharmini

    The government has only to come out openly with the plain truth, which is that it honestly never intended to harm a single civilian while it took on the internationally mandated task of removing the LTTE. The translation of this honest and laudable intention into a propaganda slogan was the work of inept diplomats like the chameleon (or is it the shapeshifter or perhaps the clown or common monkey) who sat at the UN at the time.

    It is only the continued bungling of the brainless bunch that passes as advisors that holds the government back from making it clear that it will make good the damage done in the course of the war through giving priority to compensating the victims and building infrastructure that was damaged in the war affected areas. This is why international financing is not forthcoming for these tasks with the priority and ease with which international aid is doled out to build roads and airports and ports allover the island. How many of these advisors have advised the government to declare its intentions and enter into discussions with multi lateral institutions and bi lateral donors? How can the government attend to this vital task of reconciliation when its hands are tied by the lack of international responses which is the outcome of its advisors and policy makers? Is it because if the government is assisted to do what it would like to do, it will win the elections in the north and east as well?

    The investigation of war crimes is important but it has an order of priority that falls below that of compensation and rehabilitation and development. The investigation of war crimes before this task is completed will open the doors to instability and disaffection. It is not only a question of war crimes. It is also a question of rehabilitating the LTTE and forging for it a credible space in the islands developmental history. There is no doubt that the LTTE is a fascist force but its underlying political objectives and the history of their emergence and consolidation must be acknowledged and hence members of the LTTE who did not engage in war crimes have to be recognized just as solders of the Sri Lankan army who did not engage in war crimes have to recognized.

    If the affected people including the solders are compensated and rehabilitated and if development is moving forward and if the LTTE is recognized as a legitimate political movement led astray by incompetent war criminals who rejected political solutions again and again and if those political solutions are now implemented then a government that is seen as just and magnanimous towards a defeated foe will have the moral strength and legitimacy to investigates its own so called war heroes for war crimes and then its attempts to ensure that justice is meted out may find sufficient support amongst the citizenry.

    I have watched your progress from the 80’s and I must say you have done a pretty good job pushing the human rights doctrine and its cult of compliance and I do accept that this is a lot better than the seeds of chaos and rabid racism that many of your contemporaries have chosen to sow. I think that you have the capacity to go beyond this doctrine and help in the task of forging pathways towards acceptance, healing, reconciliation, rehabilitation, cultural restoration, normalcy and the generation of a state that is able to guarantee due process and rule of law to every citizen and guiding the government along this path through processes of confidence building, strengthening, capacity building and support. The nation has to be governed by some government and what matters is how that government governs and not which government governs and this is something to be kept in mind. You have always had a sharp mind. Think about what I have pointed out. Do what you think is best.

    • 0
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      Crazyoldmansl,

      I feel the first step though long overdue, the President should take is to kick out his blood-sucking coterie of ‘Advisers’ who are leading him down the garden path.

      Perhaps he might do better without being ‘advised’.

    • 0
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      Sharmini is Casting Pearls before Swine! Some of the comments on these pages show that the commentators have not understood what she is trying to expose. They seem to think that she is against Sinhala and Buddhism, whereas she is trying to explain that what is being passed off as Buddhism is not the Real Teaching of the Buddha. She is emphasising that this trend should not be allowed to continue, for that will spell the end of true Buddhism in this our Dhamma Dvipa where it has been safeguarded for so long. Our Politicians are trying mistakenly, to make cunning use of this emotional attachment to all things ‘Sinhala Buddhist’, for their own advantage and survival.

  • 0
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    Muck-rakers do not understand any language. Every religion has its symbols which are sacred to the followers, like the Cross,the Holy Q’uran, and Buddha’s Cheevara.Buddhists respect the Cheevara because it was worn by Buddha, notwithstanding the disrespect caused to it by some wearers. That does not mean others especially like the Sharmini who chose to lead the discussion should have used such inappropriate terminology to caption her article which hurt the feelings of Buddhists. Muck-rakers like Peace Dove and Pol Pot may not understand or sensitive to such feelings. That speaks of their background.

    • 0
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      Foolish Wallah,

      You regard Buddhism as a religion, which it is not.

      Sharmini regards Buddhism as a philosophy, which it is.

      So that is the difference.

      Hope I haven’t confused your little brain.

    • 0
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      The robe gains its respectability and reverence from the wearer. The wearer does not get respectably or reverence from the robe. The robe represents a venerable monk. However, when it is worn by a degenerate person with a shaven or half shaven scalp, it is no longer a robe, but just a piece of saffron cloth! The wearer is then an insult to what is supposed to be a robe.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0
    0

    Oh,Look at this Internet intellectual-Peace Dove! Pontifying about religion. Worthy of the Nobel Prize for Religion! Or better something else for muck-raking. Can’t even stand on his own.Has to go after a skirt to get it!

  • 0
    0

    WHY TAMILS CANNOT BE GIVEN THE RIGHT TO RULE THEM SELF IN THEIR OWN TERRITORY?

    DO YOU CONSIDER THEM AS SECOND CLASS CITIZENS ?

    WHY THE SINGALESE DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE FEELING OF TAMILS ?

    WHY ARE SINGALESE COLONISING TAMIL AREAS! WHERE THEY HAVE THE MOST FERTILE LANDS WITH REVERES AND RAINFALL IN SOUTH – COMPARED TO INFERTILE AND BARRON LANDS IN THE NORTH & EAST?

    EVERY ONE IS BLAMING LTTE! CAN ANY ONE TELL ME HOW MANY SINGALESE CIVILIANS HAS BEEN KILLED BY LTTE ACTION OVER 30 YEARS?

    WHY SINGALESE ARMY OCCUPYING TAMILS AREAS WHERE THERE IS NO RESISTANTS ?

    WHY SINGALESE NATION IS PROMOTING EXTREMISM ?

    ARE SINGALESE NATURALLY BAD AND SELFISH PEOPLE ?

    IF YOU ARE A SINGALESE CAN YOU PLEASE ANSWER THE ABOVE QUESTIONS !

    • 0
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      Manivannan MP,

      Please don’t blame the entire Sinhala community for the mistakes and foolishness of a few. Likewise, the entire Sinhalese community doesn’t blame the entire Tamil community for the atrocities of the LTTE.

  • 0
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    Unless we see through the fascist nature of these religious fanatics and patriotic fools, we we will keep ushering in violence and murder and mayhem in to the society. These Buddhist monks who spread such violent hatred, no matter what the issue, are acting against the very principles of Buddhism. Other than that they are more Sri Lanka/Sinhala race supporters than supporters of Buddhism. In India it is the BJP, in Europe it is the neo-Nazis and the extreme rightwing, in America it is rightwing Christian Evangelicals. These are definitely victims of satan and courting satan and inviting that violent entity into their minds and into the society. It is these fanatuically-nationalistic monks who helped to create the LTTE and Tamil militancy in the first place. Therefore do not support these guys, in the name of Buddhism or because you are so patriotic about Sri Lankas.

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